5 Quick and Delicious Lunches Under 400 Calories

5 Quick and Delicious Lunches Under 400 Calories

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Faith Durand
Mar 12, 2012
I feel like I need to preface this post with a disclaimer. I am not usually a calorie-counter at all. Counting widgets of energy as I eat is profoundly contrary to the spirit of what I believe about setting a joyful, nourishing table. Food is more than a commodity; eating is so much more than simple consumption of energy. But I have also been paying attention to the upwards creep of meal portion sizes — both of my own homemade lunches, and those of the average American takeout meal. I created these five lunches out of curiosity — a portion-size scientific experiment, if you will. I just wanted to see what 400 calories would get me. What did it actually look like? Another disclaimer: 400 calories is no magic number. I chose it almost arbitrarily. A lunch of this size fills me up and keeps me satisfied (I am fairly petite). But I know that lots of people would want more than this for lunch. So, here's a visual tour through five complete lunches that each come in under 400 calories and that also happen to be easy to pack or whip up for a midday lunch.

5 Quick, Yummy Lunches Under 400 Calories

  1. Lentils with poached egg plus a cup of cantaloupe - Cook lentils the night before; they last well in the fridge. Then poach an egg in the office microwave to go with them. I also love to buy a melon on Sunday and cut it up for snacking and lunches throughout the week. Calorie breakdown: • 240 in 1 cup cooked lentils • 80 in 1 poached egg (see how to make a poached egg in the microwave) • 60 in 1 cup cantaloupe • Total: 380 calories
  2. Brown rice with shredded chicken - Brown rice is another great make-ahead starch for lunch. It's nutty and delicious, and it pairs beautifully with leftover chicken. I like to drizzle just a bit of sesame oil over the rice for extra flavor. Calorie breakdown: • 165 in 3/4 cup cooked brown rice (see how to cook brown rice) • 110 1 chicken thigh (about 52g) • 40 in 1 teaspoon sesame oil • 70 in 1 nectarine • Total: 385 calories
  3. Black beans with lime & avocado plus a banana - The quickest lunch, and vegan too! Just mix a few fresh things together with black beans, and take to work in Tupperware along with an avocado and a banana. Calorie breakdown: • 135 in 3/4 cup black beans with lime (get recipe here) • 150 in 1/2 medium avocado • 105 in medium banana • Total: 390 calories
  4. Whole wheat tortilla wrap with tuna-cabbage salad plus cherry tomatoes - A quick and easy wrap sandwich with a crisp filling of tuna and cabbage. Take advantage of the cherry tomatoes in the markets right now — so yummy! Calorie breakdown: • 120 in the whole wheat tortilla • 240 in 1 cup tuna-cabbage salad (get recipe here) • 30 in the tomatoes • Total: 390 calories
  5. Baked sweet potato with yogurt and bacon plus a nectarine - Roast a few sweet potatoes, top with bacon crumbles (yes, bacon!) and then warm up in the microwave at work. Yogurt makes a great complement as well. Calorie breakdown: • 170 in 1-2 sweet potatoes (200g) • 90 in 3 slices bacon, crumbled • 20 in 2 tablespoons whole-milk yogurt • 70 in 1 nectarine • Total: 350 calories
Related: 200 Calorie Gallery (Originally published August 26, 2010) (Images: Faith Durand)
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